Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, the director of “We Stand With Shaker,” calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and is available on Amazon) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo.” He has written for the New York Times and the Guardian, and is currently writing for Al-Jazeera. He has also worked with the United Nations, WikiLeaks and Reprieve.
Close Guantánamo Prison
On his second full day in office in 2009, President Obama signed an executive order that was a declaration of American renewal and decency hailed around the globe. It called for the closure, in no more than a year, of the detention camp at the United States Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — the grim emblem of President George W. Bush’s lawless policies of torture and detention. Accompanied by other executive orders signaling a break from the Bush era of justice delayed and denied, it was a bold beginning.
What followed was not always as uplifting. The new administration decided to adopt the Bush team’s extravagant claims of state secrets and executive power, blocking any accountability for the detention and brutalization of hundreds of men at Guantánamo and secret prisons, and denying torture victims their day in court.
Attorney General Eric Holder did the right thing by ordering a trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, in a federal court in Manhattan. But he bungled the politics of the decision, and the administration had to abandon its plan in the face of fierce opposition from local pols and from Congressional Republicans out to portray Mr. Obama as soft on terrorism. His self-imposed one-year deadline for closing Guantánamo passed, along with the initial boldness and inspiration. Congress piled on hobbling restrictions, making the difficult task of unraveling the Bush travesty and emptying the prison practically impossible going forward.
There are now 166 men held at Guantánamo, 76 fewer prisoners than when Mr. Obama took office. Only a handful of those remaining have been charged with any crime or legal violation. About 86 of the inmates were identified more than two years ago for repatriation to their home countries or resettlement elsewhere by an Obama administration task force that reviewed each prisoner’s file.
Thanks to outrageous limits Congress placed on the transfer of Guantánamo prisoners beginning in 2010, the prisoners are still being held, with no end to their incarceration in sight. In September, a member of this stranded group, a Yemeni citizen named Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, killed himself after a federal judge’s ruling ordering his release was unfairly overturned by an appellate court. It was the kind of price a nation pays when it creates prisons like Guantánamo, beyond the reach of law and decency, a tragic reminder of the stain on American justice.
President Obama, It’s Time To Fulfill Your Promise To Close Guantánamo – OpEd
By: Andy Worthington
November 15, 2012
I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January with US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.
Now that the dust has settled on last week’s Presidential election, we at “Close Guantánamo” pledge that we will continue to demand that President Obama fulfills his promise to close the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which he made on his second day in office in January 2009.
Although we acknowledge that the President has released 71 prisoners since that time, and we accept that Congress has been monstrously obstructive, this is not sufficient to excuse Barack Obama for his failure to fulfill his promise. 166 men still languish in Guantánamo, almost all abandoned by the justice system on which America prides itself.
Particularly galling is the fact that 86 of the men still held were cleared for release by President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force, a sober and responsible collection of officials from the major government departments and the intelligence agencies, who analyzed the cases of all the prisoners throughout 2009. The Task Force concluded that 56 of those men should be released, and 30 others — all Yemenis — should be held in “conditional detention” (a category of detention invented by the Task Force) until it was decided that the security situation in Yemen had improved.
On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby talks about yet another "apparent suicide" in Guantanamo prison, dryboarding, and how the only way to ever leave is in a body-bag. Abby interviews former CIA Officer Ray McGovern about CIA intelligence failures leading up to 9/11, the presidential daily briefings, and the PNAC neocon strategy for war. Abby Martin then talks to Afghan journalist and author of "Opium Wars" Fariba Nawa about the opium trade, opium brides, and the heroin black market. 11 years after the 9/11. Finally, Abby breaks down the systematic erosion of our civil liberties through legislation passed in a post 9/11 America.
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The President ordered Gitmo to be closed and then changed his mind. This is because he only thinks he is commander-in-chief.
One possible reason for this flip-flop is that somebody decided to tell him the truth about the prisoners there - that they are mostly innocent farmers and goatherders.
The following is from infowars.com
Obama Puts Off Gitmo Closure Until After 2011
December 23, 2009
Yes We Can… be exactly like the Bush administration. In another glaring example of the near seamless transition between the Bush and Obama administrations, The New York Times is reporting Obama may not close the Gitmo torture concentration camp until after 2011, maybe later...........
Statement of September 11th Advocates Regarding Guantanamo Bay Military Tribunals ... No Justice for 9/11 Victims Found Here
For Immediate Release
May 4, 2012
It would seem that the U.S. Government found itself in a conundrum when they allowed prisoners, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), to be tortured in secret prisons around the world. Once tortured, any confession or testimony from KSM, or others, could not be deemed reliable. Furthermore, the focus of the eventual proceedings would become a trial about the practice of torture, instead of being a trial about alleged terrorist crimes. That would have been untenable for the U.S. Government, which wants to avoid any and all accountability for their own crimes of torture.
CIA whisked detainees from Gitmo
By: MATT APUZZO and ADAM GOLDMAN
08/06/10 1:10 PM PDT
WASHINGTON — A white, unmarked Boeing 737 landed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before dawn on a CIA mission so secretive, many in the nation's war on terrorism were kept in the dark.
Four of the nation's most highly valued terrorist prisoners were aboard.
They arrived at Guantanamo on Sept. 24, 2003, years earlier than the U.S. has ever disclosed. Then, months later, they were just as quietly whisked away before the Supreme Court could give them access to lawyers.
The transfer allowed the U.S. to interrogate the detainees in CIA "black sites" for two more years without allowing them to speak with attorneys or human rights observers or challenge their detention in U.S. courts. Had they remained at the Guantanamo Bay prison for just three more months, they would have been afforded those rights.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: (212) 549-2689 or 2666; firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YORK – A new video released by the American Civil Liberties Union today features family members of 9/11 victims calling for federal trials of terrorism suspects. The Obama administration is expected to announce by November 16 whether certain Guantánamo detainees will be transferred to the U.S. for trial in federal courts or be tried in the illegitimate military commissions. “
For Immediate Release
February 10, 2009
The Military Commissions System at Guantanamo Bay was an attempt by the Bush Administration to create an “extralegal zone”, wherein the rule of law was ignored. Many Guantanamo detainees were subject to detention without charges, rendition and illegal torture. The Military Commissions System, which allowed evidence obtained through torture and coercive interrogation tactics, has been a dismal failure both legally and practically. The Supreme Court has rejected the policies of this system each time it has reviewed them. Because of the Bush Administration’s mistaken belief in its ability to craft a new legal system, which clearly created avoidable moral and legal challenges, justice may never be served.
President Obama has paused all proceedings at Guantanamo Bay for 120 days in order for his legal team to attempt to design a system in which the verdicts will withstand the scrutiny of the inevitable appeals process. He is rightfully attempting to fix the quagmire that was created by the previous administration.
9/11 kin sees face of terror; condemns plan to shut Gitmo
After seeing suspects brag about attacks, she's stunned when trial is suspended
By STEPHANIE SLEPIAN
STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE
Sunday, February 01, 2009
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- It was little more than 24 hours between the time Lorraine Arias-Beliveau boarded a plane and the moment she came face-to-face with the five men accused of masterminding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The former New Springville resident sat in a courtroom at Guantanamo Bay on Jan. 19 with several other family members who lost loved ones in the Twin Towers. They were selected in a lottery to observe pre-trial hearings.
She was stunned by what she heard: The suspects, switching back and forth between Arabic and English, shrugged off potential death sentences and proclaimed they were proud of their role in the attacks.
Their words forced her to step outside of the courtoom for a few minutes.
For immediate release
January 23, 2009
The Guantanamo Bay Detention Center continues to be an enormous stain on America’s reputation. Newly elected President Obama has taken the first step in removing this stain by keeping his campaign promise to the American people.
The temporary halting of proceedings at Gitmo gives us the “audacity to hope” that President Obama will be able to restore America's good name, which has been repeatedly tarnished during the past eight years.
We appreciate the tough decisions that President Obama has been forced to make and admire him for taking these difficult tasks on. We look forward to hearing his plan for closing Guantanamo Bay forever, finding a just way to try the detainees and putting an end to this horrific chapter in America's history.
# # #
Lorie Van Auken
Additonally, please see earlier statement below, which further explains our position.
September 11th Advocates Statement
April 3, 2008
Live Broadcast of Eric Holder Confirmation Hearing on No Lies Radio Thursday Jan 15th at 6am Pacific – 9am Eastern
Five 9/11 Suspects Offer to Confess
But Proposal Is Pulled Over Death Penalty Issue
By Peter Finn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 9, 2008; A01
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, Dec. 8 -- Five of the men accused of planning the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks said Monday that they wanted to plead guilty to murder and war crimes but withdrew the offer when a military judge raised questions about whether it would prevent them from fulfilling their desire to receive the death penalty.
"Are you saying if we plead guilty we will not be able to be sentenced to death?" Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed operational mastermind of the attacks, asked at a pretrial hearing here.
The seesaw proceedings Monday raised and then postponed the prospect of a conviction in a case that has become the centerpiece of the system of military justice created by the Bush administration. A conviction would have capped a seven-year quest for justice after the 2001 attacks, but the delay in entering pleas will probably extend the process beyond the end of the Bush presidency.
The Shrinking Case Against Binyam Mohamed
Justice Department Drops "Dirty Bomb Plot" Allegation
By ANDY WORTHINGTON
As the Washington Post reported yesterday, the US Justice Department has dropped the key allegation against British resident and Guantánamo prisoner Binyam Mohamed -- that he was involved, with American citizen Jose Padilla, in a plot to detonate a “dirty bomb” in a US city.
For over three years, Binyam’s lawyers at Reprieve, the London-based legal action charity, have been arguing that the allegations against Binyam were extracted through the use of torture -- in Morocco, where Binyam was tortured for 18 months, after being rendered by the CIA, and at the CIA’s own “Dark Prison,” near Kabul, where he was held for four or five months from January 2004, before his transfer to the US military prison at Bagram airbase, and his eventual arrival at Guantánamo in September 2004.
We will not be silenced . . .
Refusing to be silenced
August 1, 2008
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On July 24, about 100 people gathered in Baltimore for a forum to stand up against a long-term spying operation conducted by the Maryland State Police against anti-death penalty and antiwar activists.
The surveillance and infiltration of the groups took place while Republican Robert Ehrlich was governor, according to 43 pages of state police reports recently released to the ACLU. The spying continued month after month despite the fact that the state's agents never recorded a single illegal act among the groups' protest activities. This week, the current governor, Martin O'Malley, appointed a panel to review the state police surveillance operation against the anti-death penalty and antiwar movements.
Dave Zirin, a sportswriter and activist, was one of the activists named in the spying reports. At the July 24 meeting, he talked about his reactions to the spy scandal and activists' plans for "going on offense."